Chinon, France – with Château de Chinon on the hill
Emily Braden has been convinced to go on vacation with Harry, her charming but unreliable cousin. Harry is going to the town of Chinon in France to look for the lost treasure of Isabelle, one of the Plantagenet queens, and he arranges to meet Emily in Chinon. Unsurprisingly to Emily, Harry fails to show up on the agreed upon date. So begins another of Suzanna Kearsley’s wonderful romantic historical mysteries.
At first Emily thinks nothing of Harry’s absence, but as the days go by without hearing anything from him, Emily grows concerned that perhaps Harry’s failure to appear is more than just his usual forgetfulness. As she gets to know the other guests in the hotel in which she is staying, she becomes entangled in not only the mystery of Queen Isabelle’s lost treasure, but also the more recent mystery of another Isabelle, who supposedly hid a treasure before taking her own life in World War II.
The cast of characters include a charming Frenchman and his delightful child, two Canadian brothers, an American couple, and an old retainer with secrets of his own, all of whom draw Emily further into the mysteries of Chinon. Ms. Kearsley’s delightful descriptions of Chinon gave me the sense of being there, and I admit to spending an evening looking at photographs of the French town and reading more about this historical little gem of a city in the Loire Valley in France.
I was alternatively entranced and dismayed by the unfolding events and kept reading “just one more chapter” until the wee hours of the morning. The ending was eminently satisfying–the mystery of both of the Isabelles is resolved as is Harry’s disappearance. My only disappointment is that I would have liked a bit more detail about the two Isabelles and their times. However, all in all, it was a satisfying read for anyone who likes historical thrillers set in an exotic locale with a bit of romance thrown in, too.